back to article 'AI divide' across the US leaves economists concerned

Artificial intelligence-related technologies show promise but are clustering in AI hubs across the world, a group of economists has reported. The econ boffins looked at government data from a 2018 survey covering 474,000 firms, as a representative sample of some four million US businesses. They found that fewer than 6 percent …

  1. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    "econ boffins" ??? Nay, nay and thrice nay! Boffins are clever folks who make / invent / study useful things. While not compulsory, the mental image has room for exotic glassware, lab coats, LEDs flickering in monitor-illumated labs. Any physical resemblance to refugees from a Tefal ad is purely coincidental.

    Economists, on the other hand, don't. They are about as far from being or doing anything useful as it's possible to get. Attempting to slip them into the realm of boffinry is an affront the clever chaps and chapesses who actually make things work.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Remember ...

      ... an econ is just like a RealLife con, but using computers.


  2. jake Silver badge

    "but it's still used by less than a quarter of workers"

    Possibly because over three quarters of workers know that in its current incarnation, it's nothing more than fucking useless marketing bullshit.

  3. Filippo Silver badge

    Why concerned?

    Why on Earth would they be concerned? This is exactly how cutting-edge tech adoption works.

    A small subset of potentially interested actors are early adopters. They are willing to take the risk that it doesn't work out, in exchange for the chance to get a running start if it does.

    The rest are... not early adopters. If the tech doesn't work out, they lose nothing. If it does, they'll jump on later when it's more mature and easier to board.

    This is not a "divide", it's just how stuff works. I can't be bothered to go look at historical data, but I bet that in the first few years of, I dunno, cellphones, the pattern was the same. Hell, it probably was the same for electricity. For steam. For fire and the wheel.

    And the 266% growth is easy when you start from pretty much zero, which is what "AI" was even just one year ago.

    Frankly, calling this "concerning" makes me doubt the credentials of any so-called "economist" that came up with this. Don't they teach this in school?

    Unless they are saying that "AI" is soooo shiny that literally everyone needs to jump on it right now, in which case I'd ask if they have stocks in tech they need to pump.

  4. Rich 2 Silver badge

    So what?

    The fact that most people DON'T use "AI" (not that it actually exists in any meaningful sense) is a good thing - it probably shows they have better things to be doing

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    22% have workers doing fuck all and need the sack

  6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Promise indeed!

    Artificial intelligence-related technologies show promise

    Agreed. They promise a tremendous waste of resources (power, attention), rapid growth in learned helplessness, and a surge in breathless enthusiasm for unproductive time-wasting shiny toys.

    Oh, sure, I've seen the anecdotes about using LLMs and image generators to automate pointless, time-wasting tasks. That's terrific. It's surely better than identifying pointless, time-wasting tasks and removing them from the process, thereby improving productivity. By all means, let's have machines generate useless messages, which can then be ignored by other machines. We can burn cycles and get humans out of the loop completely.

    And in return we'll degrade prose and illustration into dull, uninspired and uninspiring machine-generated crap.

    I used to say I had some regrets about working on distributed computing in the '80s, seeing where it led us. Now I feel the same way about having done some work in natural language processing.

    O what a brave new world, that has such robots in it.

  7. Petalium

    How many AI:s do you need to have in a company to keep them fully occupied by only sending pointless messages to each other? If I remember correctly, the number of humans is 200.

  8. druck Silver badge

    Non-jobs become AI non-jobs

    They found that fewer than 6 percent of businesses used any of those AI technologies at the time. But many large firms with more than 5,000 employees were doing so – when weighed by employment, average adoption came to more than 18 percent.

    The larger the company, the more people in non-jobs there are, so it's hardly surprising that even hallucinating AI can churn out the same type of useless crap they do. Of course instead of eliminating these non productive and moral sapping positions, the C-suite can allow the dross to continue, but at a reduced cost with AI.

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